SI President’s Post: Celebrating many years of Soroptimist service

“The Soroptimist movement is heading for its centennial in 2021. Many of our volunteers have been members for a long time, and continue to give service to transform the lives and status of women and girls through education, empowerment and enabling opportunities. It is a privilege to acknowledge our wise and long-serving Soroptimists.

There are different ways of showing you care. According to the book, ‘The Five Languages of Love’ by Gary Chapman, they are Affirmation, Acts of Service, Touch, Gifts, and Quality Time – kind words that acknowledge the value of one’s contribution, doing a task to show you care, a hug, a present or time together. We use one, some or all.

SI Christchurch recently held a function to honour members who have given exemplary service to Soroptimist International. I could not attend the celebration function, but it was my privilege to send greetings and congratulations.

Lesley Fursdon, SI Christchurch, furnished me with a report – which I share with you below as an example of celebration and care of our experienced members.

“On Saturday 6 May 2017, SI Christchurch held a function to honour members who have given exemplary service to Soroptimist International over the past 68 years, two of whom are over 90 years of age and still active members. SI Christchurch’s charter date was the 28 November 1949, and amalgamated with the Cashmere Club in 1991. We currently have 30 members and 8 of those are members who have given over 30 and 40 years of service, to a combined total of 327 years.

Greetings, congratulations and an apology were received from Yvonne Simpson who was travelling at the time and was read to those present.

The club acknowledged the significant contributions made by the members, including Betty Loughhead Turland MBE, JP, who was SI Christchurch President twice in the 1950’s and 70’s, and was the first Soroptimist International President from New Zealand. Betty was an active member of the club right up until the time of her passing 3 years ago.

It was a great privilege to honour, congratulate and thank Mary Holmes QSM, JP, a member for 48 years and an Honorary Life Member of SI Christchurch. Mary has been President of SI Christchurch and was Secretary over a period of 23 years. Mary was also the Region of NZ South President, Secretary and their Archivist for 8 years. Mary attended many international Soroptimist Conferences as a delegate or representative of SI Christchurch, and her daughters are members of SI in Singapore and Jakarta.

Certificates and flowers were presented to Mary as well as Lorraine Blackler with 46 years of service, Dorothy McDonald, 44 years and Helen Clarke, 43 years. Certificates and badges were presented to Diana Broughton, 39 years, Sister Raye Boyle, 37 years (most  with SI Wellington), Wendy Carryer, 37 years and Velda Kelly, 33 years. Certificates were presented to those who had given over 10 and 20 years of service.

A special recognition of certificate and flowers was made to Maureen Lough, 13 years, who was President during the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes in Christchurch when our city was changed beyond belief.  We were supported by Soroptimists from all over the world and Maureen as President during this time did great work co-ordinating the response and holding everything and everyone together during this time.

SI Christchurch has been fortunate in the commitment to Soroptimism shown by all the members, the stability of the membership, friendliness, comradeship and the willingness to participate in the variety of fundraising opportunities presented to us.”

My congratulations to President Yvonne Flitcroft and the members of SI Christchurch, and to clubs all over the world who acknowledge the many years of service from members. Many of the Soroptimists mentioned had been Presidents of the club, and so had been active in leadership. I am the second New Zealander to be International President and it was a special privilege to know and be inspired by Betty Loughhead Turland who was the first. The earthquakes that devastated Christchurch, my home city, occurred when I was SISWP President. I called for a “Red and Black Appeal” which provided the funds referred to in Lesley’s’ report. It’s a small world when you are a  Soroptimist!

Photo: Mary Holmes, QSM,  JP who has given 48 years of Soroptimist service. President Yvonne Flitcroft in the background.



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